You just moved to a new city to take advantage of a career opportunity. Now, just a few months later, you’re writing home to say, “I made a BIG mistake.”
You may be right. I’m convinced that the biggest expense of any move isn’t the moving van. It’s discovering you don’t fit with your new home. You end up with a lot of therapy bills and maybe you move back to where you started. Or you sabotage yourself at work (or at home) till you finally get the message: “You don’t belong here. Let’s go!”
Here are 5 tips to help.
(1) Invest in family counseling before you move to fulfill a family member’s dream.
Often I get calls from clients who moved to be closer to family or to find a new social life. These moves can be dicey.
Don’t be shocked if you discover you love your family better from a thousand miles away. Don’t be surprised if you resent your spouse who leaned on you to move for his or her retirement, golf game or career dream.
It’s easy to say, “Well, I’ll be close to family so I’ll find a way to earn a living.” The truth is, you may not be able to duplicate a career in a different city, for all kinds of reasons.
When you resent whoever persuaded you to make the move, you will be miserable. You’ll know. Your friends will know. And all too often, your boss will know.
(2) Expect to wait six months to three years to feel settled in your new home.
Ignore those chirpy people who say, “You’ll feel at home in no time.” Listen to objective researchers. They say you’ll need up to three years – occasionally longer – to feel at home.
If you’re still feeling disconnected after three or four years, you might consider reviewing your experiences and re-assessing your values. Sometimes a life coach or career coach can be helpful, especially if they have experience with relocation challenges.
(3) Make short hops, not leaps, in the early stages.
If I could share just ONE idea, it would be this one.
When you’re new in town, you’re fair game. Every professional organization, club, neighborhood group and leisure activity will want to work with you.
Don’t be surprised if you’re treated differently after you actually join a group and attend a few meetings. Now you’re just a new face and you have to prove yourself.
(4) Create a customized support system.
Almost always, two things happen after you move.
First, the people you left behind – those who cried, “Don’t go! We will miss you forever!” – will stop returning calls. They’ll maintain the friendship via posts and tweets on the social marketing engines.
Second, the people in your new city who said, “Oh, please move here! We’d love to see more of you!” will be busy with their own lives. If you’re lucky, they will help you settle in. Then you’re on your own.
Either way you’ve got to make new friends and find new connections.
OK, maybe your experience will be different. Don’t count on it.
(5) Take advantage of what’s available.
Almost every city, town or even small hamlet has unique sights, features and opportunities you won’t find anywhere. Take full advantage while you can.
One of two things will happen.
You may realize you like living here better than you realized. Now you don’t want to move.
Alternatively, you’ll be in a better mood, which means (psychologists say) you’re likely to make better decisions. And when you do move, you’ll carry memories of these experiences with you forever.